A Black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer in Wolfe City had offered a handshake to the officer, asking if he was “doing good,” as the officer arrived at a convenience store to check out a report of a fight, according to a court document released Wednesday.
On Wednesday investigators with the Texas Rangers released the probable cause affidavit which partially describes what took place Saturday night.
Wolfe City police Officer Shaun Lucas, 22, has been charged with murder in the weekend death of 31-year-old Jonathan Price, whose funeral will be held Saturday at the high school football field in the city of about 1,500 people located about 70 miles northeast of Dallas.
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Prices' family said witnesses told them he was trying to break up a domestic dispute and did nothing wrong. Meanwhile, the attorney representing Lucas, said the officer claims he followed the law and Price was an "aggressive assailant."
The third version of what happened appears in the affidavit that's less than two pages long. According to the affidavit, written by a Texas Ranger, the entire interaction between the two on Oct. 3 was captured on a body camera. That footage has not been released.
It states that on Oct. 3 at 8:24 p.m., Lucas, responded to a report of a disturbance at the Kwik Check Convenience store located at 103 S. Santa Fe Street.
The affidavit said that when Lucas arrived at the convenience store because of a “possible fight” he was greeted by Price, who asked the officer “you doing good” several times and extended his hand in a handshake gesture. Price apologized for broken glass on the ground, telling the officer someone had tried “to wrap me up.”
The affidavit says Lucas thought Price was intoxicated and tried to detain him. Price said “I can’t be detained” as Lucas grabbed at his arm and used verbal commands. When Lucas produced a stun gun, Price began to walk away.
After Lucas deployed the stun gun, which wasn’t fully effective, Price walked toward him and appeared to reach out to grab the end of the stun gun, the affidavit said. The affidavit said that Lucas then fired four times, striking Price in the upper torso. Price was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
In a statement Monday announcing that Lucas had been charged, the Texas Rangers said that Price “resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away,” and that the officer’s actions weren’t “reasonable.”
Lucas remained jailed Wednesday on $1 million bond. He was recently moved from the Rockwall County jail to the Collin County jail on behalf of Hunt County.
Russell Wilson, a criminal law attorney in Dallas who is not connected to the case, said after looking at the the affidavit, he was surprised how short it is.
"I would have expected more detail regarding who made the 911 call, the contents of the call, whether or not the officer requested backup assistance at any point in time, whether or not there's anything to this notion that Mr. Price appeared intoxicated," said Russell Wilson "But I would also be curious about what were the events initially and were there more than one call to the officer as he was coming in."
He said he believes the 'skeletal affidavit' could likely get the case taken to a grand jury.
"It did raise some defensive issues, but it fell short of the legal standard for self defense which would be that the officer shooting was in fear of his life, or serious bodily injury, it didn't have anything like that in there," Wilson said.
"Why did he believe that it would have been necessary to detain Mr. Lucas, you know, it says for public intoxication of course that would have been a Class C misdemeanor. It's generally only punishable by a fine," Wilson said.
He said ultimately a lot of questions will be answered once the body camera footage is released.
"In this case it certainly would be logical to ask for the body camera and it should be able to be released publicly and everybody can see for themselves and evaluate this affidavit versus the actual footage."
Lucas’ attorney, John Snider, has said that the officer “only discharged his weapon in accordance with Texas law when he was confronted with an aggressive assailant who was attempting to take his” stun gun.
Lee Merritt, a Dallas attorney representing Price’s family, has said on Facebook that he was told Price raised his hands and tried to explain what was going on when the officer arrived. Merritt wrote that after the stun gun was deployed Price’s “body convulsed from the electrical current, they ‘perceived a threat’ and shot him to death.’”
Police haven’t released any details about the reported fight that brought Lucas to the convenience store, but Price’s family and friends said the one-time college football player had intervened in a domestic disturbance.
His family and friends said Price, a Wolfe City employee, was well-known in the community. Price, who had played football for Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, was a personal trainer and body builder with dreams of starting his own fitness center.
Tony Coleman, an Oklahoma City attorney who grew up in Wolfe City, said the community always comes together when someone dies but that the death of Price — known for his bright smile and enthusiasm for fitness — “has touched the community in a way that that it’s never been touched before.”
Coleman, who is representing Price’s family along with Merritt, said there haven’t been race-related problems in the tight-knit community.
“I have as many white friends as I do Black friends,” said Coleman, who is Black. “In fact I probably have more white friends than Black because the disparity of the population is that great.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 71% of its residents are white, 14% are Black and 13% are Hispanic.
“We all spent the night at each other’s houses, we come to the aid of one another when the need for aid arises,” Coleman said.
Lucas had been with the Wolfe City Police Department for a little less than six months when the shooting took place, according to records from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. His prior law enforcement experience had been working as a jailer with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office for about five months.
“He was an outsider, this guy was,” Coleman said. “For the community, they feel betrayed in a sense. That’s the feeling that I’ve gotten from everyone because this was somebody who was supposed to serve and protect the community, not to kill us.”